It is often said that absence makes the heart grow fonder and the beaming smiles around the gate-keeper's hut at Butson Park certainly bear out that sentiment.
Blue-shirted figures at the bottom of the hill are laughing and joking, taking entrance money in one hand and holding out a laminated QR code for sign-in purposes with the other.
The buoyancy is understandable; it is five weeks since the people of Yackandandah have been able to gather like this.
"Two of the buzzwords these days are 'agile' and 'nimble' and it's required that," club secretary Trevor Matthews said. "We keep an eye on the emails and then just dance as quickly as we can to get things going.
"The situation today only became clear at 5pm yesterday. We thought this would be possible but we didn't the final nod until quite late in the day.
"It's required a lot of hard work but when you get an event like this, with a lot of people catered for and a beautiful day to be outside, you feel like you might have got it right."
It's hard to argue, with the under-17 footballers hurling themselves into tackles on an oval almost entirely surrounded by parked cars and utes.
Yackandandah and visitors Tallangatta have been among the Victorian clubs on hold for the past month, waiting for government restrictions to ease around crowd numbers at community sport in particular.
"The real challenge is the uncertainty around what you can and can't do," president Andrew Lawson said.
"You think last year hurt people from a mental health perspective but I think this latest one, even that three weeks not playing, we were keen to get it happening this weekend irrespective of what happened.
"The whole league was, because the impacts are exacerbated every time something like this happens.
"It's not being able to get out with your mates, families coming down to watch training on Thursday night. It breaks that routine and when you're holed up in a house 24/7, things are going to break at some point."
But there are only good vibes in evidence as I walk behind the goals and through the growing throng.
My day gets even better when I see the canteen stocks Gum Trees Pies.
"The town gets behind the team and we try to support the town as much as we can," Lawson said. "I don't think we'd be half the club we are without the community that's backing us.
"A large percentage of the players and volunteers are Yackandandah people and there's a lot of businesses in town that we support. We support both pubs and we've got a large number of local sponsors, which is awesome.
"There's an intrinsic link between the two. If we're helping each other, that's how things work."
It's been that way, I soon discover, for many years. John Dale is greeted universally as 'Butch' and the nickname soon makes sense as he takes me on a trip down memory lane.
"I was the butcher for 40-odd years," Dale said. "When I came here, there was no football and I thought 'this is crap, what's going on?'
"I had the butcher's shop starting up so I got to know a few people and that's when I went up to Beechworth Gaol and saw the warden. He used to send down a truckload of prisoners to make up the numbers; the only thing was we couldn't go across the border. We used to play East Lavington back in those days so that was the only side we couldn't play.
"We used to go up there and have a BBQ with the prisoners. They'd take us through and some of their cells were absolutely magnificent, clean and tidy, but some of the rougher boys were bloody terrible, junk and rubbish everywhere.
"But you got to know these guys and that's how we got going again. Some of them were good players.
"One bloke played full-forward and you could just about guarantee he was going to kick half-a-dozen-plus every game. There were other blokes you had to really watch because you only had to look like having a bit of an argument and it was on.
"One bloke had fought for the Golden Gloves a few years prior. He wasn't a bad footballer but he was the sort of bloke you needed playing beside you because then you had no worries; nobody was going to touch you."
Peter Barnes, who's in between gate duties and goal umpiring, has contributed to the Roos' rise over the past four decades.
"The club was at a crossroads but recently a lot of people have moved in and it's given us a fair bit of strength of numbers into the juniors, football and netball," he said.
"When I was playing, those junior grades were struggling a bit as farming had flattened off and people were yet to move into the community.
"But I've always loved my local footy. This is where I played, did team manager after that, and it's just a good way to get out."
Yackandandah have been one of the season's surprise packages on the football field, winning their first six games under coach Darren Holmes. A former AFL player, the 50-year-old is proving to be a great appointment by the Roos but he's as self-effacing as anyone you'll find in country footy.
"It's not about me, it never has been and never will be," he said. "It's about our community, our footy club, our players and the families.
"I really don't like it when there's a focus on me because it's not about me, it's about them being the best they can be.
"Our junior participation's really high and this is where kids grow up. Kids learn to be men here if they've got good role models and I believe we do."
But Holmes never planned to be one of them.
"I hadn't had anything to do with football for nearly 20 years," he explained. "I won a premiership as a 16-year-old at Walla, played three seasons at Lavington, went to the Sydney Swans for four years and then Fitzroy for two. I went to North Ballarat in the VFL and was assistant coach there for two years.
"I came home and played some footy at Mitta because I had a bunch of mates there, really enjoyed that and then walked away.
"I gave a lot as a footballer and didn't have much left to give. I just lost interest.
"It was four or five years ago that I watched my son play here at Yackandandah. I went home for a bit and I actually came back and sat in my car and had a couple of beers. I was just watching the footy, got out of my car to soak up some atmosphere and thought 'gee, this is what I remember as a kid.'
"I got involved from there. They've got a great group of people and I wanted to be part of it. I started coaching the juniors and I got right into it.
"They asked me to coach the inter-league side, which coincided with me wanting more and from there, I went to the club and said 'I want more, if you've got a role for me.'
"Don't get me wrong, in a couple of years, I'll probably need to step back again because there's a lot of people to keep happy and that can be a challenge but I'm really enjoying it.
"My wife's here, my boy's playing, my daughter comes to watch and it's a good place for kids to grow up. I'm just offering what services I can while I can."
Yackandandah's netballers are thriving too.
Emma Maslen, the A-grade coach, has been a Roo since she could walk and those early memories remain fresh.
"Very early starts!" she said. "Dad was always running the gate so we were here by 7.30am every Saturday, helping the ladies in the canteen set up and blowing down the netball courts.
"The old netball court used to be covered in those little itchy bombs from the trees so that was an hour's work.
"We were the family that was here all day, every week and footy was the highlight of the week. It still is.
"I've played at Yack my entire life and I have coached juniors as well but I've always been working towards taking on that senior role. It means everything."
Netball operations manager Carla Jenkins and umpire co-ordinator Simone Lane joined the club as adults but both talk about Yackandandah with the same fondness.
"I lost my Mum last year and these guys were like my family, my rock," Jenkins said. "They all pitched in together to help.
Lane, a life member, has already umpired the under-13s and will officiate the A-grade match shortly.
"When my husband first came here to play footy, I sat in the car thinking 'I don't know anyone' but within a week, I had a knock on the window, saying 'we hear you play netball, would you like to play?' Lane said.
"Clubs like this are a really good place for kids to learn life lessons. Team sport is so important for learning how to work with other people, take direction, learn how to win and lose and that if you want this to happen on a Saturday, there are things you have to do. That's not only what you put in at training but contributing by pumping up balls or helping at a working bee.
"Villages do bring up kids and this club does a lot of that."
It's a vision shared by football operations manager Sam Pan.
"It's an interesting era we live in," he said. "Kids can lock themselves up in rooms but I've got 32 under-12 kids out there, 26 under-14s, 22 under-17s and when I drive down the hill on a Thursday night, I get a buzz out of it.
"We get a lot of kids that start junior football and they think it's just about playing football but as they get a bit older, they realise there's leaders required and they haven't quite got those attributes.
"We try to encourage and develop them and we place a focus on that.
"There's a young chap out there, Lachie Farrugia. Four or five years ago, you wouldn't get a word out of him but now he's a mascot for the leaders and he comes up to me and asks 'what can I do today?'
"It's changing that whole mindset and giving kids a bit of courage and personal self-esteem.
"It's all of us. It's the senior coach and senior players getting out there, training with them.
"In the thirds game, we had a couple of senior players running water so if you're an under-17 kid and you see a senior player coming out to give you water, that proves we're all equal.
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"Even at senior level, there is no standout player.
"It's not about one person, it's about the team and that's hard to change.
"We have had baggage over the years so to change that culture and mindset has been difficult. It only takes one rotten apple and the rest of the basket will go but we've tried to eliminate that.
"We have mental health nights, we talk about drugs and alcohol and helping your mates.
"You've got to give these kids the tools because sometimes football's all they have.
"Once they go to work, it's a different world but here, they've got 100 friends."
The wait has definitely been worth it for the Roos, whose senior footballers beat Tallangatta by 14 points to keep pace with ladder leaders Chiltern.
"We're in an extremely good place and it's exciting," Lawson said.
"You can see from the crowds, it's dragging people back. It's amazing.
"I haven't seen crowds like this since I've been back here.
"This is a different year. It feels different, it smells different and hopefully it ends differently."
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